Sunday, January 23, 2011

Will Manouri be the new halloumi?

I haven't come across much in the way of interesting cheese dishes lately - except for this one at Kiwi chef Peter Gordon's new cafe Kopapa

It topped a bruschetta of white bean purée (laced with herbs by the looks of it), braised cavolo nero and tomato yuzu jam.

I liked the Manouri. It was lighter and moussier than halloumi and less salty than feta, of which I discovered from Juliet Harbutt's excellent World Cheese Book, it is a by-product. In Greece they use it in sweet dishes as well as savoury pies like spanakopita in much the same way as the Italians use ricotta. It's usually made from ewes' or goats' milk though and obviously has a firm enough texture to stand up to frying.

I wish it was more widely available. (The Greek food specialist Odysea seems to import it but doesn't currently sell it in their online shop.)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ubriaco Capra: a great cheese to pair with red wine

I'm always on the lookout for cheeses to match red wine (which clashes with so many cheeses, especially washed rind and blues) but had forgotten about Ubriaco an Italian cheese matured with the skins, pips and seeds left over from red wine making.

As a result it has a savoury, vinous taste of its own which seems to chime in perfectly with red wine, especially if you eat the rind - as you're encouraged to.

The only downside is that it's not cheap. This version which I bought from Selfridges Food Hall cost £38.50 per kilo. According to a quick search on Google it comes from the Veneto, is made of goats milk and is matured in the skins of Traminer grapes. I think it would be great with a good Valpolicella or any medium-bodied Italian red come to that. It was certainly fine with a Côte du Rhône Villages.

I seem to remember buying a slightly cheaper version in Waitrose a while ago which may still have it in their larger branches.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What to do with the leftover Stilton?

You may have managed to get rid of the turkey but I think it's a fair bet you still have some cheese you bought before Christmas lurking in the fridge. And only one day left to use it up before you go back to work if you don't want to find it awaiting you whiskerily next weekend.

Here are six simple ideas that will avoid it going to waste:

* Make a quiche. The advantage being you not only give yourself a meal for tomorrow but the basis of a packed lunch or light supper on Tuesday or Wednesday. Here's the Stilton and leek quiche (above) I posted a couple of years ago.

* Make a mac'n'cheese. Remember the Ultimate Macaroni Cheese challenge last year? There were lots of great variations on the classic that would use up odd bits of cheese. Here's Signe Johansen's version which used four different kinds.

* Make a creamy Stilton linguine. Doesn't sound quite as romantic as Gorgonzola but it's a great supper for one and dead simple.

* Make a steak sandwich with caramelised onions and Stilton - or Stichelton. Like this one here.

* Make Stilton butter. Beat equal quantities of crumbled Stilton and room temperature butter with a wooden spoon, season generously with freshly ground black pepper and a little salt if you think it needs it. You can also add a tablespoon of finely chopped parsley. Spoon the flavoured butter onto a piece of foil, shaping it into a rough rectangle. Roll the foil around the cheese mixture to form a cylinder, twisting the ends of the foil like a Christmas cracker and chill until firm - or freeze. Put a slice on a steak or burger (having brought the butter back to room temperature).

* Make 'fromage fort', a classic French way of using leftover bits of cheese. First cut up your cheese and remove the rinds. Whizz a couple of peeled cloves of garlic in a food processor, add the sliced cheese and pulse until you have a thick paste. Add just enough white wine to make a spreadable consistency and season with cayenne pepper or chilli powder to taste. (For a stronger version you can add a spoonful of brandy). The spread keeps in the fridge for a couple of days and makes a tasty topping for crackers, crostini or toast.

Oh, and a Happy New Year to you all!